Knights superstar Kalyn Ponga looks set to be stripped of the captaincy after a video emerged of him being kicked out of a toilet cubicle with teammate Kurt Mann.
The video came to light on Monday morning, sparking Ponga’s dad, Andre to claim the 24-year-old was “sick in the toilet and his mate went in to help him” while out celebrating “an exciting house purchase.”
Although, Fox League’s James Hooper suggested that wasn’t the real story, telling NRL 360: “You might have to get Pinocchio out again, we aren’t believing that fairytale are we?”
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Newly signed football manager Peter Parr will front the media on Tuesday and News Corp Journalist Phil Rothfield believes it could be the end of Ponga’s reign as captain.
“I think it’s a really, really bad look and I know the Knights are really concerned about the PR side of it and the culture side of it,” he told NRL 360.
“Do you know how serious I think it is, I think he will be stripped of the captaincy over this.”
Ponga was announced as co-captain alongside Jayden Brailey in February, however with the latter missing for a lot of the season Ponga carried the responsibility himself for the first 16 rounds.
Hooper agreed that “it’s a bad scene” and urged the Knights to come down hard on Ponga given prop David Klemmer was stood down for an on-field incident involving a trainer.
“If he’s had concussions, commonsense tells you he should be (on an alcohol ban), certainly Kurt Mann (who is injured) is supposed to be on an alcohol ban,” he said.
“They tore strips off David Klemmer for swearing at a trainer on the field, I’d argue that this is far more detrimental in terms of negative headlines for the club and if they’re fair dinkum they’ll read the Riot Act tomorrow morning, Peter Parr will front the media and he will say ‘enough is enough, this is the line in the sand moment, we’re not going to tolerate this sort of jibber anymore.’
“Off the back of that I think both of them are going to have to be issued breach notices and fines. Because if they’re going to breach David Klemmer and fine him for something that was trivial on the field with a trainer, you can’t cop this.”
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However Paul Kent fears stripping the captaincy could have the opposite effect and believes the club should “demand” Ponga “lifts his standards.”
“I would say to him ‘you’re the only guy at this club that can lead us out of trouble and we’ve paid you the money you deserve, you’re a senior player and an Origin start…’ and I would obligate him to start leading them out of the woods,” he said.
“If you’re going to spend that money on a player you’ve got to get a return out of him. The way to get the best out of Kalyn is not to banish him, not to sack him from the captaincy.
“I’m not excusing it, I would bring him in and give him the Riot Act but I’d say to him ‘you’re the guy mate’ and I would demand that he starts lifting his standards and he takes his teammates with him.
“If he’s got any sense of decency inside of him as a player from a football point of view he will respond to that.”
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Braith Anasta agreed.
“As much as he’s taken the mickey, this guy holds the key to success… you’ve got to get this blokes in your hip pocket,” he said.
“Kick him in the arse but say ‘this is it mate, this is your last chance.’ They should do some in-house stuff over the next 24 hours, teach him a lesson, scare the you know what out of him and go ‘c’mon mate.’
“If you just sack him as captain you start to lose your key player.”